Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

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The first time I tried cranberries as a child was straight from a can in that common gelatinous form. Granted, I wasn't a fan since it's not exactly an ingredient common in asian cuisine I grew up on. But later as an adult when I tried cranberry sauce made from scratch using fresh cranberries, my tastebuds perked up and I loved it! Before I knew it, I started looking for ways to use cranberries either fresh or dried. Now, dried cranberries are a staple in my pantry especially during the holidays and the peak of my baking season.

There's something about cranberry that says 'holidays' to me... and these shortbread cookies captures the sweet taste of the holidays too. My friend Frances made these cookies for my holiday cookie exchange this year and they were a hit! Aside from the beautiful red and green tones mixed into this cookie, the combination of cranberries and pistachios are delicious together.

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

recipe made by Frances, from The Grand Central Baking Book


2 1/3 cups all- purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

In a large bowl whisk the flour with the salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth (about 1 - 2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla bean paste. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Fold in the chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. (Make sure that the nuts and cranberries are evenly distributed throughout the dough.)

Divide the dough in half. Place each half of dough on the center of a 14 inch length of parchment or wax paper. Smooth and shape the dough into an evenly shaped rectangle that is about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Then thoroughly wrap the shaped logs in the parchment or wax paper, twists the ends of the paper to seal the logs, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours, or up to three days. (The logs can also be frozen for about two months. If freezing, it is best to defrost the logs in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven. Using a thin bladed knife, slice the logs into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick cookies. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

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